Talk and Learning

Development and Learning 

The importance of Talking

Communication is a crucial way to ensure you form an ongoing relationship with your child. There are many benefits to regularly sharing your thoughts and ideas with your children, and giving them an opportunity to voice their opinions. Here are just a few:

Here are some ways you can help your child:

  • Talk a lot to your child. This will help your child learn new words.

  • Read to your child every day. Point out words you see.

  • Point to signs in the grocery store, at school, and outside.

  • Speak to your child in the language you know best.

  • Listen and answer when your child talks.

  • Get your child to ask you questions.

  • Give your child time to answer questions.

  • Set time limits for watching TV and using computers. Use the time for talking and reading together.

Your little bundle of joy is growing fast. They are learning a lot about the world around them.

There is still so much you can do to help.  They still need to learn through play and having fun. They still need encouragement and support from the adults that are important to them.


OK, so what can you do to help?

Work with their interests. Some children like cars, some like cooking or pretend play, some children like drawing and writing, some children like making things --- and the list goes on.

Show interest in their interests. 

How can I help with their work?

You can support their learning at home by

  • showing an interest in the topic and discussing it with them

  • Finding books to read together about the subject they are learning

  • Helping them research

  • Finding out about the topic yourself so you know how to answer the questions when they're asked.

But to do all of this you have to talk...


Some Possible Causes of  Language Disorders in Young Children

You may not know for sure what caused your child's language problems. Some possible reasons are:

  • Other people in your family having language problems 

  • Being born early 

  • Low birth weight 

  • Hearing loss 

  • Autism 

  • Down syndrome or Fragile X syndrome 

  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder 

  • Stroke 

  • Brain injury 

  • Cerebral palsy 

  • Poor nutrition 

  • Failure to thrive

See Communication Disorder for more information

The Importance of Talk

5  years

Your home is still very important in regard to learning. Your child will improve their vocabulary and speech by hearing how words are used in everyday life. Talk to your child and ask them questions. Encourage them to ask you questions. All of this will build up their skills.

Ages and stages

Some things you can do to help:

  1. Ask your child to retell a familiar story. This will help them to put ideas in order.

  2. Ask questions that need more than a 'yes' 'no' answer.

  3. Talk about numbers - How many? What is one more? etc

  4. Play counting games - cook and measure out the ingredients - look for number when out and about, etc

  5. Talk about time and use time words

  6. Encourage your child to read things around them like cereal boxes and signs

  7. Read with your child - even if that means you do most of the reading and your child reads some of the words that they are already familiar with.

  8. Work on puzzles together like mazes and dot to dots

  9. Find opportunities to do real writing like making a shopping list and writing birthday cards

10. practice writing their name by getting them to trace  over the dots

 5 - 7

Oh, the joys of 5 to 7-year-olds. It's all questions that seem to be impossible to answer. Be positive because your child learns his/her attitude about life from you. Talk about what their learning and what they want to learn next. Encourage them to talk about how they feel. Talk about their feelings (good and bad).

How can I do more?

Talk about the things you see around you and their colours. When you are out and about name the things you see. Explain new words, show shapes that you see around you. Talk about animals as you point them out in a book or if you see them out and about.

If you cannot answer their questions - then be honest. Your child needs to know that you don't know everything, and that's OK. 

Talk about how you could find the answers.

Just keep talking and listening.

8 - 9 years

Your child learns very quickly at this age. They want to know about everything they see and do.

You can help them make more sense of the world and how they fit in it by talking to them. There it is again TALK.

Talk about their interests and opinions and really listen.

Ages and stages

Children at this age talk about past, present and future events. In reading aloud they use different tones of voice to show meaning and feeling. They use longer and more complex sentences when they are speaking. They like to try out different words and concepts. 

Some things you can do to help

  1. Listen to your child reading in short regular sessions. Encourage your child to read with expression. This will help them read more fluently.

  2. Encourage your child to write in their daily lives - birthday cards, telephone messages and keeping a diary.
    Play word games – ‘Stop the bus’ and ‘I spy’ with a letter - board games – Cluedo and Junior Scrabble and card games – Old Maid, Rummy with your child.

10 - 12


At this age, children use language in many different ways - to explain, describe, question and share. They ask questions and discuss ideas and information to communicate and develop their thinking and learning. 

Building it into your day

At this age, your child is likely to know what they like and will want to follow up on their interests. Interacting with your child throughout the day and giving them opportunities to practice what they’re learning through real-life situations can make a big difference. You can help them to find books, look up information, write about things they like and do activities that reflect what they are interested in through everyday activities.

Some things you can do to help

  1. Chat to your child – ask them to show you something interesting they have learnt from their friends or on the internet.  Talking and listening helps build their communication skills particularly when they feel that you listen to them.

  2. Involve your child in maths you do every day - shopping, discussing time and dates, budgets, DIY and cooking.

  3. Be encouraging about what your child is reading and try not to be too judgemental. If they are not reading much, go to your local library for ideas about books. Your child is most likely to read and write about things they are interested in.

  4. Encourage your child to write - shopping lists, cards, and messages for friends - and to use calendars to record what they have done and for planning.

  5. Talk to them about their topic. Support them in their learning by discussion.

  6. Play board and other games with your child. Games such as Scrabble, the TV program Countdown and card games.

Soft Toys age 0 - 2

What is the first toy a baby has? Most of the time it will be a teddy or another soft toy. From a very early age, these soft toys can provide reassurance and comfort when baby is anxious. As your child grows a favourite soft toy might be given a name.

You can help your child develop their imagination - set up a picnic blanket (inside or out), and invite the teddy along, Talk about what they might like to eat, show your child how to put teddy into bed, pretend to feed the toy and comfort them. Encourage your child to think and talk about how their soft toy is feeling - they will learn new words that will help them express their own emotions. All this helps your child learn through play - they are learning about the world around them.

Starting Nursery age 3- 4

When its time for your child to start nursery it can be very stressful for them.

1) Talk positively about this what it will be like. 

2) Talk about what you will need and let them help with choosing what they want to wear. (Try to sort out the clothes the night before to avoid the rush in the morning).

4) If your child settles quickly, it's best to say "bye-bye" and leave promptly. Try not to hang around too long.

5) Reassure your child that you will be there to collect them later and leave. 

6) Always be on time when you collect your child. It can be frightening if they think you have forgotten them.

7) When you pick them up, make sure you give them some quality time to tell you about their day. They might not be ready to talk about their day until after you have arrived home. Be ready to listen.

Make time to talk.

Rhythm in words age 3- 4

Enjoy the rhythm in words.  Make rhythms out of your child's name or their friends' names. Chant, clap or drum those rhythms out - "Mar-tin -sul - i-van" or "Seán-Mac-Lough-lin". Do the same with phrases like "rash-ers-and-saus-a-ges" or "Lon-don" or "Dub-lin-Dub-lin".  See if they can hold their own rhythm while you drum or chant another rhythm at the same time.

Every Picture age 3- 4

Every picture tells a story - Pictures - pictures everywhere - in storybooks, in magazines and newspapers, on birthday cards, and social media. Pictures are a great way to encourage your child to talk. Make comments, ask questions, and listen to what your child has to say. 
A lot of pictures have a story attached to them. Ask questions  - what do you think is going to happen next? who do you think these people are? Are they happy or sad? etc...  
There are no right or wrong answers - it's whatever you say it is. This is a good way of encouraging your child to talk and to learn about the structure of stories.
Some storybooks have no words just pictures. These are ideal for creating a story with your child.

The Taste Game age 5 - 7

Some food is salty, some is sweet, some is sour; some food is smooth, some is crunchy. Here is a taste game to enjoy the differences. If your child is a fussy eater, choose foods that you are sure they like, and reassure them. 
1. Without your child seeing, lay out some tiny chunks of food on a clean tray. These could include:
• A cornflake
• A piece of ham

• A raisin
• A piece of cheese
• A piece of apple or orange
• A piece of chocolate
• A raspberry or other berry
• A piece of raw carrot
• A potato crisp 
2. Blindfold your child, lead them to the food, and guide their hand to pick up each piece of food.
3. Let them taste the food and try to guess what it is.
4. How many did your child guess correctly? Have a laugh and talk about what the food tastes like. 
Later, try putting little bits of salty, sweet or sour foods on your tongue. Notice how different parts of the tongue are more sensitive to each taste. Also, if you hold your nose, the taste test becomes very difficult. That's because our sense of smell helps us taste things too.

Museum Visit age 8 - 9

A museum can seem like a boring place at this age. It's because there is too much to see and too much information to take in. You can make it more interesting by doing a few simple things.

1) Treat it like a treasure hunt. Before you start, print out some images from the museum website and ask your child if they can find the object.

2) Talk to them about the object if you manage to find it and ask questions - is it smaller than they expected, what was it used for, how old is it, what is it made out of? 

3) Tell them interesting stories about an object or two - whether it's the Egyptian mummy or a Viking sword. Connect it to things they know already. 

4) Stay for a short time and then go and have an ice-cream. Keep it enjoyable.  

Having a laugh age 10 - 12

Telling jokes is what it's all about now. And the cornier the better. Get your child to tell you jokes and you tell them some. It will be a laugh - even if it's a false laugh.